Elemental Adept is an interesting feat. There’s no denying that it sounds cool AF and from a flavor standpoint it can be a ton of fun. You want to make a master of fire, thunder, lightning, fire, or acid? Well do we have a feat for you! From the mechanical standpoint this feat can be incredibly hit or miss depending on the campaign.
The Elemental Adept feat is a situational niche feat that is best used in 5E campaigns where a certain spell type is relied on frequently. While a great feat for flavor and roleplaying there is a narrow window where this works well on a game-altering basis that won’t occur in most campaigns.
Elemental Adept has some interesting features, and it is the only feat currently in 5th Ed that can be taken more than one time. Does this make sense? Is it really useful?
We have the answers for you below!
Breaking Down the 5E Elemental Adept Feat
There are a couple different benefits that are given with elemental adept, so let’s break it down from the book.
Directly from the Player’s Handbook:
Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell
When you gain this feat, choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder.
Spells you cast ignore resistance to damage of the chosen type. In addition, when you roll damage for a spell you cast that deals damage of that type, you can treat any 1 on a damage die as a 2.
You can select this feat multiple times. Each time you do so, you must choose a different damage type.
Player’s Handbook p.166
So with the book definition of Elemental Adept, let’s jump into analyzing the pieces of this feat.
Benefit #1: Spells you cast from the chosen damage type ignore enemy resistance.
This is a pretty solid benefit, but it is limited based on what enemies you frequently come across. If you never come across enemies resistant to fire than Elemental Adept for fire spells really doesn’t help out that much. That makes it hard to judge this part of the feat in a vacuum.
Because if you’re playing a conventional campaign with a widespread of enemies then the resistance to your favored damage type might never come up. However, if you are playing a campaign where you’re facing armies of fire resistant or thunder resistant enemies, the this suddenly becomes a very powerful feat.
It depends heavily on campaign type as well as the enemies that are going to frequently come up in that setting.
Benefit #2: Any 1 on a damage roll for a spell of your chosen type of damage will do 2 damage instead of just 1.
This is a minimally useful benefit. Adding extra damage is nice, but this is sort of a yawn of an effect. There’s only a 10% chance it affects any d10 roll, 12.5% chance of affecting any d8 roll, and a 16.7% chance of affecting a d6 roll. And even when it does kick in, it only improves 1 HP of damage which just isn’t going to move the needle that much.
It’s better than nothing, and added damage as a side feature is nice, but it’s not going to affect the final grade all that much on this one.
Benefit #3: The only feat currently in 5E D&D that can be taken multiple times.
Elemental Adept is the only 5E feat that specifically states can be taken twice. Each time a player can take a different type of damage that they become adept at. This really doesn’t make a difference as far as grade or improving the feat, but it is pretty neat.
5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Elemental Adept Feat
This is not a necessary feat for any class, and in fact the only classes likely to take it barring a very specific build are wizards and sorcerers. Elemental Feat in the current iteration of 5E is far more for flavor (which to be fair, is always a good reason to take a feat – if it’s helping you to create the character you want to play) than actual utility.
This makes most sense for a wizard or sorcerer going whole hog into being a specialist in one type of damage, which is most often going to be fire but they might also go metamagic adept and use the transmutation feat of the sorcerer through that to use a a different element with a few more options.
However if you’re not doing it for flavor, chances are that elemental adept, as cool as it sounds from a flavor standpoint, it’s not going to do a lot in-game unless you’re playing a very niche campaign. Although it can be hella useful against Bear Totem barbarian clans.
Update: If your group is using the rules from Tasha’s Guide to Everything, then sorcerers should definitely consider this feat, especially if they take the Transmuted Spell metamagic which works like the Energy Substitution Feat from 3.5. This metamagic allows them to change any elemental damage type into another (so acid ball instead of fireball, ray of lightning vs ray of frost, etc).
When you combine this with being an Elemental Adept, that suddenly becomes incredibly powerful, allowing you to go whole hog attacking enemies that have no resistance to your spells…even if they usually would.
5th Ed Classes that should always take the Elemental Adept Feat:
- Sorcerer (especially if they take the Transmuted Spell Metamagic from Tasha’s Guide to Everything)
5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Elemental Adept Feat
Most wizards and sorcerers will fall into this section. Many players find they end up heavily in fire spells because there are so many good options. Sorcerers also have various metamagic options that make non-fire elemental adept feat work since they have some ability to switch their damage of a spell from one type to another via the use of sorcery points.
Also because of the way artificers build weapons it is possible that they may find an elemental adept feat useful for what they’re building, especially if the DM works with them to make sure everything they craft using that damage also has the elemental adept feat applied to it. If the DM doesn’t work with them then on this point then kick the artificer down to never.
While a cleric, even a forge cleric, will often have better feats or ability score improvements to take, if you’re going human variant that starts with a feat taking this off the bat to make your fire nastier from day one isn’t the worst move in the world and can fit in thematically with a forge cleric quite well.
5th Ed Classes that should consider taking the Elemental Adept Feat:
- Forge Cleric (Human Variant Build)
- Sorcerers who don’t take the Transmuted Spell Metamagic, for some reason
5E Classes That Should NEVER Take the Elemental Adept Feat
This is a broad group. Pretty much every class other than wizard, sorcerer, artificer, or forge cleric should never even consider this feat. This is a very narrow and niche feat. While cool in the way its written and the flavor that it can bring to the table via character build, this just isn’t a feat that is going to apply to most classes in a 5E campaign.
5th Ed classes that should never take the Elemental Adept Feat:
Final Feat Grade for 5E Elemental Adept
Elemental Adept Feat Grade: C-
Is the 5E Elemental Adept Feat Worth It?
I know a lot of people aren’t going to like this grade, pointing out that in the right circumstances and the right campaign this can be a very powerful build, and those points are correct. They’re not wrong. However, these situations are so niche and so narrow that it’s hard for me to give this a higher grade.
The extra damage is insignificant, taking the feat more than once widens benefits, it doesn’t stack them, and there are just such limited numbers of monsters with resistance that meeting them consistently just seems unlikely unless there is an elemental campaign. Because of that despite there being a really powerful potential benefit to this feat, I just can’t justify ranking it higher.
Elemental Adept Feat FAQ
Can you take elemental adept more than once?
Elemental adept is the only feat that can be taken more than once in 5E Dungeons & Dragons without a homebrew rule.
Does elemental adept ignore immunity?
No. Resistance is different from immunity and the elemental adept feat does not have any effect on immunity.
Does elemental adept turn immunity into resistance?
Elemental adept does not shift an enemy’s immunity to resistance. Not only would that not work mechanically since immunity would become resistance, and elemental adept ignores resistance, therefore immunity becomes nothing. This feat doesn’t affect immunity at all. You can’t kill a fire elemental with fire no matter how good you are at fire magic.
Does elemental adept apply to class or racial features that use the damage chosen?
No, the feat directly affects spells. So the breath weapon from dragonborn, for example, would not have this same benefit.
Other DnD Articles You Might Enjoy
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.